George W. Lee: Civil Rights Activist

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“Pray not for your mom and pop, they’ve gone to heaven. Pray you can make it through this hell,” the often-forgotten civil rights leader, Reverend George W. Lee said at a conference about racial tensions in the south. Lee was not only a very important person to his community but also the entire civil rights movement in the United States that lasted from 1954-1968. Few documents exist on Lee and his life, so in order to inform people of these, it is necessary to discuss his upbringing, his political activism, and his assassination.
George Lee grew up to be a very influential person in the south despite growing up in poverty and having an abusive stepfather. Lee was born in Edwards, Mississippi in 1904. His mother died while he was a child, and this put a damper his childhood. Despite this, he persevered and graduated from high school. In the 1930’s he became a preacher in the town of Belzoni, a town where many African Americans lived, most in extreme poverty. Later he opened a grocery store and also ran a printing press with his wife out of his house. Lee’s upbringing in a tough situation helped push him to greater heights than he would have otherwise.
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Lee. He became a role model for many blacks in the county after being the first African-American in the county to register to vote. Lee and another grocer started the local branch of the NAACP to help fight rampant racism and corruption in the local government. Most African Americans were barred from voting due to poll taxes and even if they could pay them, most blacks were still denied. He knew that only by voting could they change the situation in the south. George Lee brought the local sheriff to court and succeeded in registering most African Americans in the county to vote by
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